Traditional Design & Manufacture
The basic sketch is often the starting point for any great design!
Computer Aided Design software is where you draw the part and assemblies that you will produce
Computer Aided Manufacturing is where you determine how you will make the parts drawn in CAD. CAM produces G-Code.
CNC Control Software controls the motors / positioning system on a machine to produce the part. The Control Software runs the G-Code program.
Is this the only method?
No. There are many different methods and software packages that can be used. What is needed really depends on your specific application, knowledge, ability, and time. What is shown on this page is to get you familiar with the general software classifications and there use.
Many of the software packages available today are a combination of CAD and CAM and produced for a specific application; such as carving signs with a router.
CNC Control (Mach)
With a good understanding of how a CNC machine operates, G-Code programming knowledge and the ability to visualize the oprerations required to make a part, a G-Code editor and/or general text box can be used to program the exact method of control for a CNC machine.
This method is often used by a machinist to produce a part, or by those who need complete control to optimize their cutting strategy for the fastest times and/or best quality where CAM or Wizards may not produce the perfect G-Code that is required.
Quick Method – Less Programming Knowledge Required
Wizard (Conversational)Mill Wizard & Add-Ons for Mill
CNC Control (Mach)
Wizard or “Conversational” software is a quick method of making parts when the part features are comprised of basic shapes or cutting paths. If for example, you need to surface the top of a part and drill and accurate 4 hole pattern, a wizard is the fastest method for generating G-Code to produce these cuts.
Wizards are great for general CNC operations that are often required and repeated, where using CAD/CAM software can be overkill. Wizards are also easier, faster and less technically demanding than most G-Code editors.
What is the best?
Anyone that says that one method or type of software is best, may like their method best, or haven’t tried other methods. Each type of software has important benefits and strengths. When designing a complex piece of machinery, it is difficult to argue against using CAD and then CAM.
When making a new motor mounting plate on an existing machine, the speed of a wizard is hard to beat. One aspect that most can agree upon – learning all of the software packages can take considerable time. Do some research and keep your mind open.
At Newfangled Solutions, we use the traditional method 50% of the time. There are many times when we go straight to a machine and use the wizards, and then there are times when we use CAM and then edit the G-code from CAM in a G-Code editor. What is necessary and the fastest really depends on your methods, knowledge, ability, and how much software and equipment are available to you.